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Their trip in New Zealand.
1Leaving for New Zealand.
2How to Buy a Minivan in New Zealand?
3Swimming With the Dolphins of Akaroa.
4Surfing Waves and Sand Dunes.
5Enjoying Natural Thermal Springs.
6Climbing Mount Egmont.
7Walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
8Surving With Burgers Only?
9How to Meet Great People.
10Enjoying New Zealand Legendary Hospitality.
11The Next Adventure ...
Leaving for New Zealand.
It is quite rare consider a trip of several months to the other side of the world in New Zealand. Kevin and Élodie are part of this new wave of adventurers, and I naturally wanted to know more about their motivations.
Guillaume : What gave you the desire to leave?
Élodie : Just out of school in the south of France, we went to live in Paris to work. It is a beautiful city, but the daily routine quickly took over. Kevin had always dreamed of a long journey. It took me a few months to convince myself to leave work, family and friends to go to the other side of the world!
Guillaume : Just before you left you created a blog. What is the reason for this?
Kevin : With a seven-month trip to Oceania and Asia, we want to show the “Best of the World” to our readers, to make them realize that a long journey is possible for everyone, and that the dream can easily become reality. For that, one just needs to take a decision and save money for some time.
How to Buy a Minivan in New Zealand?
Élodie and Kevin stayed practically three months in New Zealand. A time just sufficient to motivate the purchase of a minivan, when one remembers that one must think about reselling it before leaving the country. But a little trick allowed them to get away with it easily.
Guillaume : How did you buy and sell your mini van in New Zealand?
Kevin : In New Zealand, it is very easy and common to buy a mini van and resell it afterwards. It's a real market! Preferably, we wanted to buy a minivan from French people to facilitate the financial transaction. We spotted a vehicle that we found on the Internet. We contacted the owners and were able to buy the minivan the day after we arrived.
Guillaume : How about the formalities, especially for resale at the end of your stay?
Kevin : In order to formalize the sale, it is important to fill out a form at the Post Office and pay a nine dollars sum. Two months later, we put an ad on the Internet and a buyer contacted us to buy it at the same price! Nothing's easier ! In order to facilitate the sale, we had put a maximum of details, photos and a small presentation film.
Most tourists do not know that the Banks Peninsula allows swimming with dolphins in a paradisiacal setting. Being well organized, Kevin and Elodie took advantage of their visit to Akaroa to enjoy the experience.
Élodie : We swam with the dolphins off the small town of Akaroa, with the company “Black Cat Cruises”.. We booked in the morning for the afternoon so no need to book in advance. After paying $ 90, we completed a small form indicating our swimming level and other additional information. We put on the suits, the booties, the mask and the snorkel and we were ready to embark. In a small group of 10 or 15 people, we moved away from the coast and a guide explained the steps to be taken to attract dolphins to us.
Guillaume : Precisely, how can we get the attention of dolphins who are accustomed to swimmers?
Élodie : Just put the tuba in the water and sing. At more than ten kilometers from the coast, the guide spotted dolphins and invited us to dive into the ocean. We put our singing skills to work and dolphins came to swim around us. As soon as there was no more dolphin, the guide did not hesitate to bring us back on the boat to go a few meters further. He did everything he could to have us seeing as many dolphins as possible! It was one of the most magical moments of our trip to New Zealand. On the way back, the guide has served us a hot chocolate and a small snack in order to recover from our emotions!
In a country where outdoor activities are very popular, you have to take advantage of it to try out new activities. Kevin and Élodie took surf lessons in Raglan where one of the best spots in New Zealand is located.
Guillaume : The instructors claim that everybody can do it in a few hours, but have you managed to stand up on a surfboard?
Kevin : For my part it was not the first time, I had already tried once in Biarritz without taking lessons. In Raglan, we took a 3-hour course and I managed to stand on the surfboard thanks to the technique taught by our teacher. The next day, we rented boards and combinations to perfect us!
Élodie : Stand up? Does the “crouching” position count? After 3 hours of lessons, I unfortunately did not manage to stand up on my surfboard! Yet, I spent hours, fighting the waves! It was, however, a good experience and we look forward to visiting Bali to try again!
Kevin : Undeniably, yes! However, one can descend once, twice, perhaps three times maximum! Because it is exhausting to climb in the sand and they unfortunately have not yet put chairlifts in place! But the sensations are very nice and quite special! It is not every day that one can surf on the sand anyway!
Guillaume : Did you have the opportunity to bathe in the hot springs of the country?
Élodie : Natural hot springs are not missing in New Zealand! We have tested two, one in the South Island next to the Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph, and the second in the North Island at Spa Road in the town of Taupo. The first was located in the middle of a hike called “Copland Track”. We had to walk for nearly seven hours to reach it.
Guillaume : Is this an activity worthy of its reputation?
Élodie : Once we arrived, there was no need to say, the view was breathtaking and we were able to sit comfortably in the hot springs, in the middle of the mountains. As for the second, it is enough to walk about ten minutes to reach Spa Road. Its strong point is that there are cold currents in the river and when the water approaches 40 ° C, you are happy to have them!
I rarely meet travelers who had the courage to climb Mount Egmont (better known as Taranaki). The ascent of this volcano that resembles Mount Fuji is considered difficult. That did not stop Kevin who achieved the feat of reaching the top.
Guillaume : Is the ascent of Mount Egmont within the reach of everyone, as some travel guides claim?
Kevin : Although we are not great walkers, I will not say that this trek is within everyone's reach! What is unique in New Zealand is that time changes regularly and in a short period of time. It is therefore important to properly inquire about the weather, to have a mobile phone and to report your itinerary and schedule to someone if you plan to do this hike.
Guillaume : What are the difficulties to be expected to enjoy the spectacular panorama at the summit?
Kevin : This ascent consists of different stages and you will have to walk on a dirt road before climbing many steep slopes. But the most difficult is to climb on the small moving rocks, having the feeling to fight to go further! It is important not to have the vertigo if you plan to climb the Taranaki, and you must be well equipped, because the temperatures fall in altitude! This was a real challenge!
If it is extremely popular in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is not a trek to take lightly. The course extends over nearly 20 km which must be crossed over a single day, or one might miss the return shuttle. Kevin and Élodie are motivated by nature, and the trek went smoothly.
Guillaume : Why did you choose to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing?
Élodie : The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was voted best New Zealand one-day hike and we understand why! The day before we booked our seats in a mini bus that came for us the next day at 6:45. As soon as we woke up, we climbed into it and started the great walk at seven o'clock. It's always a great idea to start the hikes early! This allows to have a superb light to take magnificent photos.
Guillaume : Did the landscapes met the expectations you had before leaving?
Élodie : The advantage of this hike is the diversity of landscapes that have never ceased to amaze us. In one day we were able to admire waterfalls, sumptuous lakes with vibrant colors, active volcanoes, craters ... It was grandiose! When we arrived at half the hike, a sign told us that we could not continue because there were volcanic hazards.
Guillaume : What bad luck, did you have to turn around?
Élodie : It was extremely disappointing and we were about to turn around when a man working at the Departement of Conservation (DOC) approached us to explain that it was a test for a survey. He wanted to see our reaction and if we were going to bypass the warning or not? After that, he let us pass and continue the hike for our greatest pleasure!
New Zealand is not particularly famous for its gastronomy, but there is a “specialty” that is famous in the travelers' community, especially among people who have just walked a long hike ...
Guillaume : Can we survive by eating only burgers in New Zealand?
Kevin : What a good question! You should know that in New Zealand, landscapes are sumptuous and New Zealanders are honest and helpful, but gastronomy is perhaps their weak point! Apart from their sumptuous burgers, of course! Their red meat is divine and they know what the word portion means! So, yes, we could live or survive by eating burgers, there's no doubt about it!
Guillaume : Do you have a good address to recommend to the readers of Kiwipal?
Kevin : Our big favorite will remain the le “Fergburger” in Queenstown ! Needless to give you the address, this is the place where half the city is queuing! You will need to order and return an hour later to retrieve your hamburger. But one thing is certain: it's worth it! Going to Queenstown without eating the “Fergburger” is like coming to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower! Be aware that a post is currently being written on our blog, concerning the Top 10 burger restaurants in New Zealand!
Even if you prepare your trip in the smallest detail, you will always be surprised by an unexpected encounter at the turn of a hiking trail. Kevin tells us one of those genuine moments that will remain in his memory forever.
Guillaume : You certainly had some great encounters, can you tell us the best one?
Kevin : There was my meeting with Basta, a Maori in his fifties. While Elodie preferred to stay in the sun to read a book, I decided to try to go fishing something. You must know that I am a bad fisherman and that all my previous attempts had been failures. On my way, my cane in hand, I came across this Maori about 1m90, who advised me to choose another place to fish if I wanted to have the chance to catch something.
Guillaume : And in the end…
Kevin : I listened to his advice and followed it. We spent the afternoon together. He literally took me under his wing to teach me how to fish, explained and told me the story of the Haka and his passion for rugby. We told each other our lives. And thanks to him I managed to fish a small shark as well as an Australian salmon that we cooked on the barbecue at the evening!
Guillaume : Catching a shark! You had an excellent teacher ... Did you eat it the shark?
Kevin : The shark has been spared! I was touched by this meeting and by the kindness of this Maori, always ready to help, in the image of most New Zealanders! I will end this anecdote with one of his sentences that particularly impressed me: “I will be happy today only if you catch a fish!”.
Élodie : We did not even count the number of times we ran out of batteries with our van. Most time, we did not even have the time to get off the vehicle that people were already helping us (and with a smile)!
Guillaume : Can you tell us a little anecdote that illustrates this kindness?
Élodie : One day, going up from Cathedral Cove, a man of about sixty years approached us to know what we had thought of our visit at the beach. From there, we discussed a half hour of our trip. At the end of our conversation, he asked us if we had tasted the New Zealand wine. We replied in the negative and he took-out a bottle he had in his backpack to offer it to us! It was adorable on his part. But beyond their hospitality, the New Zealanders are very honest. It was really refreshing.
The Next Adventure ...
Élodie and Kevin do not travel with a Working Holiday Visa and the standard tourist visa being limited to three months, they have to leave. Their adventure is not over yet, but I took the opportunity to ask a final question.
Guillaume : Before you left, did you ever think you'd come back to New Zealand one day?
Élodie : It is true that New Zealand is a wonderful place to live! Between the magnificent landscapes, the kindness and honesty of the New Zealanders and all the rest (including burgers!), we could easily establish ourselves there. But there is a big black spot on the board: it is undeniably the distance. It's hard to imagine being away from family and friends, there are still 12 hours of jet lag!
Guillaume : I will have to ask you again the same question when you return to France after visiting other countries. I am curious to see if you'll become addicted to travel. In the meantime, I thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions. This is far from easy when one passes from one youth hostel to another or when one circulates in a minivan. I can only advise reading your blog. Beyond the exciting articles, the photos of Kevin stand out, probably because he is a photographer(you have been able to admire his work throughout this interview). If your goal was to inspire future travelers, your mission is a great success!
Join Kevin and Élodie to the Discovery of the Planet.
Elodie works in Paris in communication and Kevin is a professional photographer. Together they created a blog named "the best of the world" to share their adventures. Read the story of their stopover in New Zealand on their blog.